Fuller Alumna on Rethinking Foreign Adoptions


Adoptions between Western parents and developing countries can be difficult for the children and their families. Lyndsay Mathews (MAICS ’15) wrote an article for Evangelicals for Social Action on why foreign adoptions may be more problematic than is normally assumed. Her central thesis considers Madonna’s recent adoption of twin Malawi girls but extends into the oft-misunderstood ramifications of adopting children from orphanages in foreign countries. Mathews contends, “In many countries, upwards of 80% of children who live in an orphanage have at least one living parent—something many people outside the situation don’t realize … the number one cause of children being placed in an orphanage is poverty.” Moreover, Mathews postulates that many families in these countries do not understand the legality and permanency of adoption and instead view adoption analogous to a study abroad program where their children will return after a prescribed time in another country.

Mathews suggests following a model known as the “continuum of care” which delineates best practices in caring for children at risk of being separated from parental care or who have already been separated. She states, “Family preservation or reunification is the first and best option, followed by alternative local family options.”

David Scott, assistant professor of intercultural studies and children at risk, commented on the article and his former student, saying:

“Lyndsay was a co-president of the Children at Risk student group while she was on campus, and organized her research around the themes of this article. I'm really proud of what she's written and the careful ways she has articulated herself. Lyndsay is helping us to understand that the implications and multiple impacts of international adoption are often more complicated than we anticipate. As Christians we need to be thinking more holistically and missionally about all of the parties involved in international adoptions—especially the biological parents and their extended families, who are often ignored by adoption agencies in favor of satisfying (and sometimes even exploiting) the desires of well-intentioned adoptive parents in the West.”

To read Lyndsay Mathews’s article in full, visit here.

To study with David Scott in the area of children at risk, visit the emphasis page here.

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